Sprinter Gabby Thomas became a first-time Olympian and the second-fastest woman in history on Saturday (June 26).
The 24-year-old Harvard University graduate ran the women’s 200 meters in 21.61 seconds, the third-fastest time in history. The only woman who has ever run faster is the legendary Florence Griffith Joyner, who set world records for the 100 meters and 200 meters in 1988.
“I blacked out during that race. I know beforehand I wanted to focus on accelerating through the first 100 and keep the momentum — come off the turn feeling really good,” Thomas told NBC Sports. “I am still in shock. I can’t believe I put up that time. Definitely has changed how I view myself as a runner.”
Thomas received a neurobiology degree from Harvard and is now studying toward a master’s degree in epidemiology/health care management. She studies and trains in Texas. She spoke to the The New York Times about the importance of balance between school and training in her life.
“Being in school really makes me appreciate what I’m doing on the track. It makes you appreciate the time. When I go to the track, this is my time to be on the track and be free,” she said.
Thomas also said that she draws inspiration from six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, who finished fifth in the women’s 200 meters. Thomas and Felix will both compete on the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team.
“She was the first person I remember watching on TV, the person who has been in the back of my head. To be on the team with her makes me want to cry,” she said.